It’s fun to try to rewind in my mind what has happened since I last posted. The days of the gathering were relaxing and rewarding, as conversations continued. On Saturday I walked with one of the resident ministers and another attendee on the trails that surround the retreat centre, ending up at the shady creek; in the evening I was one of the comperes for the “no-talent” show, which was another excellent reminder that Buddhist teachers are extremely good at letting their hair down.
Fond partings on Sunday morning were followed by a train ride back down the Hudson with three other participants, chatting about various issues as we caught sight of eagles and herons by the water. I had had no agenda for the day in New York, and had happily agreed when someone I just know through Instagram suggested we meet for a cup of coffee, which turned into several hours of great conversation.
After that, and taking care of my camera battery issue, I took the subway all the way out to JFK for my hotel stay. When researching for the trip, I had been delighted to discover that I could stay at the TWA hotel, which was a little more expensive than the chain hotels around the airport, but way more stylish, and considerably closer and more convenient for my early morning departure. When I arrived, as soon as I entered the red-carpeted tubes, I just felt happy to be in such a beautiful space; after dropping my bag I wandered around taking photos, and it seemed that everyone else was enjoying themselves too. I wasn’t sure what to expect about the rooms, which were new additions to the space, but mine was pretty nice!
Per my recent habits, I was awake well before my early alarm, though I actually drifted off again listening to a recent dharma talk, so I was glad I hadn’t turned it off. I set off the short distance to the Airtrain and the next terminal well before I needed to, but the long security lines ate into most of that time. There were also very few breakfast options at the terminal, so I was especially glad of the friendly crew on the plane who happily offered me a second breakfast and more coffee when I asked, as well as keeping some of us very entertained with pre-take off chatting.
It was quite something to watch the sunrise in New York and see it set in London. It was also quite something to arrive at my friends’ place and not be sleep-deprived as usually am after an overnight flight from San Francisco. The biggest disruption to my sleep was how warm it was. Monday had been pretty hot, though that had eased off by the time I arrived. Tuesday broke the records.
I went for a short walk in the morning, then went into town and met a friend in the park. I opted for shade whenever possible, but with my experiences at Tassajara and Wilbur, I didn’t feel like I was in unknown territory dealing with it – though I wish I could have filled my water bottle at least once more during the afternoon. The last time it was 100 degrees in San Francisco I was moving house, so this didn’t feel especially arduous. We dipped our toes into the Serpentine, which was quite a scene, and then I headed out via slow and heavily packed tubes to meet my hosts at a riverside pub.
There was something about the light that I found fascinating – a hazy intensity, which then became heavily glowering as clouds massed and a heavy burst of rain passed through during the evening. We were eating outside, but thankfully under a sturdy awning.
The rain broke the heat, though what remained would be considered hot here in other circumstances. I remember warm summers in my childhood, and also days when I lived in London when the temperature reached 90, which was considered freakish at the time. Now it has topped 100 degrees, and people in the UK are definitely waking up to the idea that the crisis is only going to get worse.